District Attorney John DeRosier sponsored the Calcasieu Drug Free Youth Conference on Tuesday at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Approximately 500 middle school students from across the parish attended the event. Students attended informative workshops and local law enforcement agencies were on hand with demonstrations using Fatal Vision. (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 11:02 PM
About 500 middle school students attended the annual Calcasieu Drug Free Youth Conference on Tuesday at the Lake Charles Civic Center.
The conference, sponsored by District Attorney John DeRosier, included hands-on workshops and motivational speakers.
The program, which has been in place for more than 10 years, used the standard field sobriety test approach, along with various challenges for students to understand drug and alcohol impairment.
Students spent time with law officers on Fatal Vision golf carts. With a police officer in the passenger seat, students tried maneuvering the golf carts while wearing drunk goggles, which simulate the effects of alcohol on vision.
“We try to demonstrate to them what can happen if you do use drugs,” DeRosier said. “The purpose of this is to demonstrate to children before they get into that driving scene and before they get into the nightlife what can happen if you don’t follow those safety rules.”
DeRosier said he is particularly concerned about the advent of synthetic drugs in the last few years. He said he wants to make children aware of the dangers surrounding these drugs, especially amphetamines.
As part of the conference students also listened to members of the Peaceful Warrior Program as they gave demonstrations on anti-bullying. Josh Quayhagen, who headed up the program, spoke to the children about how they can stop bullying in their schools.
He gave students three rules when dealing with bullies: Take responsibility, kill them with kindness and get more people involved to stand up against bullying.
“The biggest message is we want to challenge kids to take control of the issues that are going on in the school,” he said “Each person can really take control and really try to counter the negativity with positivity.”
The conference’s keynote speaker was Aric Bostick, who spoke to students about how they can “live their dreams.” He emphasized the importance of reaching out to other students and being a leader in the classroom.
Students were encouraged to get out of their comfort zones by getting up and spending time meeting with other students and learning about their interests.
Bostick said that when students are included and cared about there is less of a chance they will start drinking or doing drugs. He said most children turn to these activities out of a need to be a part of something — a situation he said can be counteracted by having positive role models at schools.
“Just say yes to being a leader, to being a little different,” he said. “Being somebody who’s willing to do what nobody else is doing by being humble, being a servant, and that’s how you become a leader.